Before we jump into the how, where and exactly what of this Christmas tradition, let's just translate the name for you know whats and giggles. Caganers stands for "the crapper" or a less decorous term, if you can imagine. "The Crapper" is a character in the traditional Catalan nativity scene," which involves the entirety of Bethlehem. For at least the past few hundred years, a crapping peasant can be found among these nativities. Yes, we are talking a figurine with its pants around its knees and poop behind him. No one is quite sure why or how this tradition came about, but there you have it.
Because the nativity scenes in Catalan tradition involve so much more than just the manger, caganers are not the only figures added that Westerners would not typically see. Nonetheless, this little guy remains the most controversial or funny, depending on your view of the thing. Remember, you may have to look for him if you come across a Catalan nativity, as some families like to hide "the crapper" for the kids to find.